Monday, May 18, 2015

Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

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A voice-driven mystery perfect for fans of Veronica Mars.

Meet Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic, kick-butt, Muslim American heroine, ready to take on crime in her hometown of Las Almas. When a new case finds the private eye caught up in a centuries-old battle of evil genies and ancient curses, Scarlett discovers that her own family secrets may have more to do with the situation than she thinks -- and that cracking the case could lead to solving her father's murder.

Jennifer Latham delivers a compelling story and a character to remember in this one-of-a-kind debut novel.

This is a story driven by a smart, sassy and fearless young woman who knows what to say and how to get her way. Scarlett is often nonplussed when things don’t go exactly as planned. She manages to make the most out of situations and get to the point.

Scarlett is hired by a young girl who is worried about her older brother’s strange behavior as of late. She suspects that her brother has something to do with the recent death of a friend. This person’s death was all over the news and at first Scarlett's instinct is to decline the case. But when she sees how scared this little girl is, she can’t turn her back. After meeting this brother and getting strange vibes off of him, Scarlett thinks that her client may actually be on to something.

Scarlett is a resourceful young detective who isn’t afraid to seek out the truth. And as she digs further into this mystery, she becomes a target. It turns out that this case may hit closer to home than she realized as she starts to make connections between a cult-like group of kids and her father’s murder. Here the story branches out into the paranormal with some intriguing myths and history.

This was a fun mystery to read but in all honesty, I was drawn to this story after hearing that the heroine was a Muslim-American. I was curious to see how that would factor into the story itself. If anything, it exposes the reader to some of the customs and how those are integrated into their every day lives. Scarlett to a certain extent is more progressive with regards to her religion. Scarlett’s older sister, who’s studying to become a doctor, has found comfort in many of the traditions since the death of their parents. Both girls show a healthy respect for their beliefs though both practice differently.

However, this is only a small part of the person Scarlett is. She’s a compassionate person who looks after her client. She’s a fighter who refuses to be shut down. She's a snarky opponent who sees through people's bull. She's loyal to her family and friends. And she’s a young girl in love. All these aspects combined make Scarlett a fine role model for young readers everywhere. Scarlett Undercover is a fun read and I’m excited to introduce my daughters to this!

~ Bel

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